March Madness is among us. It’s not just for the Big Dance. March Madness is at all levels of basketball.
Last week, Iowa high school girls finished up theirs with the state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. This week it is the Iowa high school boys’ turn at madness in Des Moines.
Beginning Monday, March Madness hits my home state Kansas in the form of the 2015 National Junior College Athletic Association’s national basketball tournaments. The NJCAA men’s tournament is in Hutchinson and the NJCAA women’s tournament is in Salina.
Newton native Mike Marquis is in his 14th season as head coach for the Tyler Junior College men’s basketball team at Tyler, Texas. Marquis and the Apaches are in the 2014 NJCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“It’s great for our players and our school,” Marquis said in a telephone interview this week. “They worked hard this season and deserve being in the national tournament.”
Marquis is a 1982 Newton High graduate. He played basketball at Newton under head coach Roger Slykhuis and helped the 1981-82 Cardinals post the team’s first winning record, 11-9, in 10 years.
“I grew up in a wonderful town. Newton was great for a youngster like me, who loved sports. I was influenced at a young age by tremendous coaches from youth sports right through high school,” Marquis said.
“That’s why I decided I wanted to be a coach. I wanted to help kids fulfill their potential on and off the competitive court or field.”
Marquis said Tyler, Texas — a community of 100,000 people — is really excited right now. Not only are the TJC men in the NJCAA national tournament, but the women’s basketball team is in its NJCAA tournament. The Apache teams will be playing just 64 miles apart in Kansas next week.
“We play our first game at 10 a.m. Monday and the women’s opening game is at 8:30 p.m.,” Marquis said. “So, it’s an exciting time for our fans. They can drive from Hutchinson to Salina and see both teams.”
This is the first time the TJC men’s team has been in the NJCAA national tournament since 1996. It is the first TJC team coached by Marquis to earn a berth in the tournament.
It is not the first time Marquis has had a team in the NJCAA tournament. In his first year as associate head coach at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Marquis helped lead Indian Hills to the national title. In his third year as head coach at Indian Hills, his Warriors finished fourth at the national tournament.
Indian Hills will be in Hutchinson next week also.
“The first two trips to the national tournament I really didn’t fully understand it’s about the journey and enjoying the experience. Sure, you want to win, but we’re making sure our players have a great time going and playing at the tournament next week,” Marquis said.
Helping Marquis with the Tyler team is his son, Mitch. Mitch played for his father at Tyler then played at University of Texas-El Paso. Mitch has returned to TJC as a student assistant coach.
Marquis and his wife, Kris, have two other children. McKade is a freshman at Brook Hill School in Tyler. Michelle lives in Newton and attends Marshalltown Community College.
Marshalltown Community College is where Marquis began his coaching career in 1987. He said that is a source of pride for him. He spent 11 years at MCC and his teams won more than 200 games.
Marquis was a first-team Central Iowa all-conference selection as a senior at NHS. He was the first Newton player selected to play in the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association’s Dr. Pepper All-Star Game in the summer of 1982.
Marquis played two years of basketball at Marshalltown Community College then two years at Grand View College.
Then he began his coaching journey.
“I love being a coach and teaching kids. I had so many adults who helped me along the way in Newton. They inspired me,” he said.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org